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Friday, November 10, 2017

Secrets, secrets, and more secrets

 If there is a reoccurring theme in my story, The Protector, it's secrets. Starting with a big one the heroine is keeping. What can the daughter of a English merchant have done to put herself in the sights of some of the most powerful men in the country? Juliana harbors a secret that threatens to topple the monarchy--that's all. A knight is sent to take her into protection. Stowing her away in a convent until things settle down seems like a good idea. Except Juliana stumbles upon yet another secret while there. Things are not adding up at the convent--literally. When she can't help but dig around, the place of sanctuary could be the death of her. Trying to keep the lovely lady out of harm's way turns out to be more of a challenge than Sir William anticipated.

I was inspired by events taken from the pages of history. Happenings that are still shrouded in mystery and debated today.

When the King is a Bigamist, the Heir to the Throne is ....


Such was the case when Edward IV died leaving his twelve year old son king of England.
This was during the War of Roses when the Houses of York and Lancaster were jockeying for control. Not a good time to have a vulnerable boy sitting on the throne.

Edward IV reigned twice to give you an idea of the turbulent times. His first reign was from 1461-1470, and his last was 1471-1483. He was a popular and charismatic king, but he did some unpopular things such as getting married in secret.

When he married Elizabeth Woodville it may have been for love, but he sowed the seeds of discontent. She was considered an unsuitable choice. She was older than Edward, a widow with children, and low in status. By marrying the widow of a knight, the king lost the opportunity to make a more politically advantageous match, angering his advisers. What was worse, the king began putting his in-laws in positions of power.

The Princes in the Tower

Upon his death, Edward's brother Richard used an old rumor to oust his nephew. Rumor had it that Elizabeth Woodville was not the only woman the king married in secret. Three years prior to marrying Elizabeth, he had allegedly married Eleanor Talbot--and she was still alive at the time he married Elizabeth.

Richard declared the marriage between his brother and Elizabeth invalid and their children bastards, naming himself King Richard III. Edward V, along with his nine year old brother, Richard, disappeared from the Tower, never to be seen again.

If You Have an Unaccounted Window, You Might Have a....

...Secret room!

Even before priest holes were built into Catholic homes during the time of persecution, there were reasons to have an escape hatch. With the threat of attack part of life in medieval times, secret passages and rooms would be one way to protect members of your household.

Glamis Castle in Winter

But, were there other reasons to have a secret room? Glamis Castle in Scotland is rumored to have a monster kept in a secret room. Upon reaching the age of 21, men of the family are told the secret of the room. Women are not included.

There is a story that the whereabouts of the room can be found by hanging towels out of every window in the castle. From the outside, the window without a towel is the site of the hidden room, which cannot be found from the inside. Nobody knows what's in there. (A tall ladder could quickly solve this mystery--still it's a good story.)

Get Thee to a Nunnery!

Convents weren't just for the devout. There were other reasons a medieval woman might find herself in a convent. These were good places for families to place extraneous daughters or otherwise inconvenient women. On the plus side, in a time where women didn't enjoy the freedom that men did, a convent was a place a lady could exercise independence. They weren't forced into an undesirable marriage, they could get an education, and even take on a leadership role. Many older widows chose this lifestyle.

So, as you can see, there might be many stories within convent walls.

excerpt from The Protector:
She left the warmth of the kitchen and ran down the cloister to the
visitor’s room. A thick layer of snow covered the inner courtyard and blew
feathery drifts over the stone tiles on the covered walkway, making it
slippery. Juliana entered the room she remembered being shown three days
before, shortly after her arrival. Only three days, yet it felt like a lifetime.
There he stood. His tall, broad back to her, examining a painted panel
on the wall. Her heart lurched at the sight of his lovely hair. It looked
clean and groomed since she saw him last. Would he be glad to see her?
She’d look for signs of it in his face. A sparkle in his eyes. A softening of
his features…
Sensing her approach, he spun around slowly. Their eyes met, and his
face contorted in an unexpected way. Out came a roar of laughter as he
bent over, slapping both thighs with his hands. He laughed so loud, she
feared someone would ask him to leave.
She placed both hands on her hips and glared at him. “Is that how you
greet me?”
“Ho, ho! I’m sorry, but they’ve made a real nun out of you!”
“Well, I don’t think it so amusing. Why are you here?”
He wiped the tears from his eyes. “I was passing and thought I’d spy in
on you. By Jove, I’m glad I did. What a sight!”
“Now you see I’m fine, you may be on your way.”
“Don’t be tetchy, little rabbit. I come bearing gifts.”
She perched on the tips of her toes, watching him search his tunic.
“What is it?”
He pulled out something wrapped in cloth. When he took the cloth off,
her body flooded with relief.
“I knew it troubled you when you thought you’d lost this.” He handed
her back her book of poetry.
“How did you...You went back to the inn for this? For me?”
“’Tis one thing I could do. ’Twasn’t such a hardship.” He shrugged.
Juliana remembered the flirty serving wench and her stomach twisted.
“No? Did you just ride in and find my book, or did you have to root
around? Mayhap you even had to spend the night?”
“Why do you have pique in your voice? I thought ’twould please you.
That’s all. I had no other motive in going back there.”
“Of course not. I’m very grateful.”
They stood still and uncertain a moment, their sights trained on the
floor. Juliana fought the impulse to throw her arms around him.
“So, how goes it?” he asked at last.
“It takes some getting used to.”
“I imagine. Well, I can’t imagine being a nun, really. But, tell me, did
you find Sister Ursula?”
“Oh, yes! Not at first, and I wondered if you were mistaken about her
being here.”
“I am not mistaken.”
“I know, now. I found her in the scriptorium working on manuscripts.
They’re so beautiful! They let me work there for part of the day.”
“Nay, don’t tell me they let an untrained girl touch a page! It takes
much skill and practice to reach the level of—”
“I know! I could never...but, Sister Ursula, she lets me grind stones and
mix paint for her. She talks to me while she works. ’Tis very interesting.”
“She talks to you. Huh.” He had a bemused expression on his face she
thought odd. “Anyway, what else do they have you doing here?”
“I work in the kitchen, and do other chores as they come up, like
working in the laundry.” She leaned in and switched to a low voice.
“There’s something mysterious going on here.”
He raised an eyebrow. “’Tis a holy order. I expect there to be
“Nay, not like that. I’ve been noticing something. Things are always
odd in number.”
“Oh, dear, very mysterious.” He ran his finger down her cheek, which
disconcerted her to the extent she forgot all else, for a minute.
She drew back. “Don’t tease! Listen, there are fourteen of us living
here, but I always count fifteen trenchers, fifteen candles, fifteen sheets
and garments.”
“What of it? Maybe there’s a fifteenth nun in the infirmary.”
“There are two nuns in the infirmary, and I counted them in the
fourteen. Meals are taken to them, which is openly done, but then a
fifteenth meal disappears.”
He stared at her a long moment. His expression blank. “Are you very
“Why do you ask me that?”
“I just wonder if you’re fabricating—”
“I’m not! I’m kept too busy here to make up stories. I’ve never been so
busy in my life. They wake us up in the middle of the night for prayer,
then we get to go back to bed, only to be woken up at daybreak to hear
scripture, only to be called to prayer two hours later. After that we’re sent
to work—and it’s still only morning!
At noon, there are more prayers—after which we get to eat, and then
back to work. Then, before supper we pray again, only to be called to
Compline for the final prayer before going to bed. My head is full of bells,
the way they ring them all the time.”
His lips twitched in suppressed amusement. “Mayhap your mind is
becoming overwrought.”
“’Tis not! I’m going to find out what they’re hiding here.”
He frowned and put a heavy hand on her arm. “Leave it be. You have
enough trouble of your own without calling attention to yourself. ’Tis
possible someone is seeking shelter here and by poking your nose around,
you might be putting them in danger as well as yourself. Promise me
you’ll do nothing outside of being a good little nun.” He squeezed her arm
when she hesitated. “Promise.”
“I promise,” she said, with no intention of keeping it.
“I can see I’ll have to visit make sure you’re not getting
yourself in trouble.”
She clutched her beloved book to her chest. “You might have to do

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  1. Great info, Patti. Love your excerpt!!

  2. Thanks, Kristy! Always good to see you! I love English history, especially the period of the War of the Roses. Lots of good fiction stemming out of that complicated conflict.

  3. Patti, I loved this excerpt--I was right there in the nunnery with them. So looking forward to reading THE PROTECTOR as well as all the others. Haven't read any other than the one I reviewed, but ordered my print copies and they should be here soon, then I'll sit back and ENJOY! And I so enjoyed reading about Edward IV and that incredible time of pomp, and romance yet so much deceit, cruelties or unfairness, and so many blasted secrets. Nice blog. It's so great to be in another collection with you. We're on a roll.

    1. I'm eagerly awaiting my copy too so I can read the other stories. We are on a roll! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Patti, I loved this story because of the secrets! LOL You had me going--wondering "What in the world?" Don't want to give any spoilers, but oh, what a great story!

    1. Thank you,Cheryl! Your encouragement always means so much to me.

  5. Sigh worthy for sure. Congratulations! So happy to be with you in this set of stories. Doris

    1. I can say the same, Doris. So happy to be with you again!

  6. Super, Patti! I love secrets in stories and such secrets with such high stakes - wonderful. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you, Lindsay! Congratulations to you too! We're in good company.

  7. Wonderful excerpt, Patti! I've always wanted to know what happened to the princes... Congratulations on the release of the anthology.

    1. Thank you, Tracy. I'm glad you stopped by. When they were doing repair work in the 17thc on the Garden Tower where the princes were kept the bones of two boys about the age of the princes were found under the stairs.The bodies were buried at Westminster but were they the princes and who killed them we'll probably never know. I love an unsolved mystery.